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The Devil She Knew - Lauren and Cerb

The Devil She Knew

“You didn’t mention it was gonna be this hard! I mean, okay, you did mention it, but I thought you were being dramatic. You know, like when someone says they’re starving, but they just missed breakfast, or when they say they’re dying, but it’s just a paper cut. You didn’t tell me it would be, like, actually hard.” Lauren sat up quickly, like she’d just figured out the answer to a riddle. “Seriously, I’ve never felt so many emotions all at once. I’ve tried everything, and nothing’s working. I mean, is this what people mean by 'what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger'? Because I don’t feel like I’m getting superpowers—I feel like I’m barely holding it together.” She looked over at Luce, who was staring out the bay window, looking as calm as if she were at a spa.

“If I give in, do I get tougher? Because I really don’t think I’m about to Hulk out or anything. I actually feel like the opposite of Hulk. I feel like, I don’t know, SpongeBob when he’s lost in Rock Bottom or something. It’s just a mess.” Lauren shifted on the chaise lounge, and Luce waited, because Lauren had this habit of never being done when you thought she was. Sure enough, she threw her hands up and said, “You didn’t tell me it was going to be like this! I mean, I knew it would be tough, but this is just insane. And I don’t know how much more I can take!”

Luce pinched the bridge of her nose and exhaled. “Lauren, I just asked you to watch Cerberus for two days. It’s only been one.”

“One day too many!” Lauren shot back. “Your three-headed demon dog tried to rip my hand off because I tossed a stick! A STICK!”

“Yeah, he has a bit of a...toy issue.” Luce shrugged. “Was it a crow? He hates crows, but he’s cool with ravens. Long story.”

Lauren threw her hands in the air. “A bird! He murdered a bird, Luce! Right in front of children! Kids screamed and ran for cover. One kid fell to his knees and cried for his mom, who had already jumped over a bush and sprinted to the parking lot!”

Luce sighed and looked at her with that "give me a break" look. “Okay, so he’s a little intense. But Keen's out of town on business, and I can't take him with me. I just need you to hold down the fort for one more day, and I promise I’ll never ask again.”

Lauren paced back and forth, shaking her head. “I’m not watching your homicidal guard dog for another second, Luce. Find someone else.”

Luce tried again, her voice almost begging. “What if I gave you something to make it easier? Like, what if you could talk to animals for a day? Then you could ask Cerberus what his problem is, work it out, and maybe avoid all the screaming children.”

Lauren stopped pacing and looked at Luce, eyes narrowing as if she were seriously considering it. After a moment, she nodded. “Okay, talking to animals might actually help. Maybe I can reason with him or at least figure out why he's so...bitey.”

“Great!” Luce said, clapping her hands. She walked over, put a hand on Lauren's shoulder, and said, “So be it.” 

Lauren felt a rush of energy, like a thousand dogs barking at once in her ears. "Okay, let's go talk to your little hellbeast." She grinned. "But if he tries to eat me, I'm sending him back with a muzzle."

Luce stood in front of Cerberus, all three of his heads watching her intently. His eyes glowed with a strange mix of curiosity and mischief, like he was sizing her up to see what kind of day it would be. She took a deep breath, knowing this conversation could go south in an instant.

The Devil She Knew

"Okay, listen up," she said, pointing a finger at the leftmost head, which had a habit of drooling when he was bored. "Lauren is not like Keen. She doesn't have superpowers, she doesn't know what you're saying when you growl, and she's not going to appreciate it if you try to eat her. Got it?"

The middle head cocked an ear, clearly pretending not to understand. The rightmost head let out a low grumble, which was either a warning or a burp; it was hard to tell.

"She's fragile," Luce emphasized, waving her hands for extra clarity. "So, you need to be a good pup. No biting, no mauling, and definitely no scaring children in the park. Capiche?"

Cerberus's left head nodded enthusiastically, the middle head looked skeptical, and the right head scratched his ear with a hind paw. Luce sighed. "Just be nice to her, okay? No demon stuff. She's only got to watch you for one more day, and then you can go back to Keen and his weird voodoo treats."

Meanwhile, Lauren was having a blast outside. With her new ability to talk to animals, she was in a whole new world. Birds tweeted secrets about where they hid shiny things, squirrels gossiped about which trees had the best acorns, and a cat in a nearby alley told her about the time he got stuck in a tree for three days. Lauren laughed, chatted, and even danced with a group of pigeons who showed her their latest routine.

When she returned to the house, Cerberus greeted her with unexpected enthusiasm. He bounded toward her, all three heads wagging their tails like giant windmills. "Hey! Human! You! Food time! And then playtime! Get moving!" he barked, his voices overlapping in a cacophony of demands.

Lauren blinked, surprised by his sudden energy, but she smiled and led him to the kitchen. She fed him the special demon kibble Luce had left, and he scarfed it down with gusto. "Okay, let's go outside," she said, grabbing his leash, which was more like a heavy-duty chain. Cerberus barked with excitement and practically dragged her out the door.

At the dog park, Lauren tried to teach Cerberus how to fetch. She tossed a stick, but he just looked at her with all three heads and said, "Why would I go get that? It's your stick. You fetch it." He then proceeded to show her how to summon fire from the ground, which caused a minor panic among the other dog owners. Lauren laughed, mostly to keep from crying, and decided maybe fetch wasn't the best game for a three-headed demon dog.

Eventually, they found a middle ground. Cerberus agreed to play fetch if she would teach him how to do cool human things, like taking selfies and ordering pizza. By the end of the day, they had reached a sort of truce. He even let her scratch behind his ears without trying to gnaw off her fingers, which she considered a win.

As the sun began to set, Lauren and Cerberus sat together on a hill overlooking the park. The sky was a mix of orange and purple, the perfect backdrop for a peaceful evening. Cerberus laid his massive heads on her lap, each one breathing heavily with contentment.

"You know, you're not so bad," Lauren said, scratching the middle head's chin. "Just remember, no more biting birds, okay?"

The left head grumbled but nodded. The middle head yawned, and the right head licked her hand. It was a start. They watched the sunset together, enjoying the rare quiet of the park. Lauren smiled, knowing that she’d survived a day with a three-headed demon dog and made a new friend in the process. Not a bad day's work.

To Be Continued...


See you next week.
The Devil She Knew

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